Hodge press conference 1

Sheriff Alex Hodge makes a point from the top of the courthouse steps. Behind him, from left, are Sgt. Bobby Moree and Bob Shoemake, Lt. David Ward and Maj. Jamie Tedford. More deputies are to the left and right and in the audience. (Photo by Mark Thornton)

 

Constables in charge of justice court security, supervisors say

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Constables are in charge of handling security in justice court, and judges will need to tell them to show up when court is in session, the Jones County Board of Supervisors said in their regular monthly meeting on Monday.

Sheriff Alex Hodge had been providing security for the court in recent years.

“It was coming out of my budget and we were taking a deputy off the road” to provide security in the courtroom, Hodge said, “but we just don’t have the staff for it now.”

The sheriff is obligated, by statute, to provide security in circuit and chancery court, but not in justice court, Board of Supervisors President Jerome Wyatt said. Constables, by statute, are charged with providing security in justice court, but they haven’t been because all three of them have other full-time jobs, Supervisor Barry Saul said.

“We need to talk to the constables and talk to the judges and see what we can work out,” Supervisor Johnny Burnett said. “When I was a constable, when the judge tells you to be there, you were there.”

Saul said that providing security was “something (Hodge) generously did,” but he said it wasn’t up to supervisors to get involved with whom provides security, only to fund it.

“It’s up to the judges to tell their constables to be there or hire additional security,” Saul said. “We can’t tell them what to do. We can just give money for the judges to hire security.”

Justice court typically convenes at least three times a week since felony suspects have to appear before a judge within 48 hours of being placed under arrest. Constables would be paid extra, by the hour, for the time they’re in court.

Hodge, who lost in the Republican primary election runoff while seeking his fourth term in office, talked about what would be done with some of the JCSD’s property after he left. That was discussed in a closed-door executive session, then the action that was taken was announced when supervisors brought the general public back into the meeting.

Two K9 officers who are leaving the JCSD will be allowed to keep their K9 partners because the cost to “retrain them with new handlers would be prohibitive,” Saul said. Supervisors also OK’d the transfer of two Polaris Ranger ATVs that JCSD owns to Jones College. JC had been using the vehicles for “quite some time,” Saul said. The JCSD will also be allowed to discard several radios and computers “that have been deemed obsolete.”

In another matter, supervisors approved a request to allow the justice court courtroom to be used once a month, when felons who are out of jail on bond are required to come sign in at the jail. The move is needed while renovations are going on at the Jones County Adult Detention Center. 

In other business, the board approved a $1-per-hour pay raise for the E-911 dispatchers.

 

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